Abstracts & Papers in Stream 1

The purpose of this paper is to compare public pension systems of Korea, China, and Japan in light of a principle of social solidarity. Despite the fact that Korea, Japan, and China have adopted pension systems rather recently compared to western countries, three nations have experienced drastic developments and modifications in their systems in short period of time. The Japanese and Korean pension systems achieved a universal pension coverage in the early 1960s and late 1990s respectively. China has adopted a new pension scheme to achieve a goal of universalism since the 1990s. At this point, we can try the comparisons of the pension schemes of these countries because all the basic structures of the schemes are in place.  Considering the importance of pension system in welfare provision system, the present research can ultimately serve as an important rationale in discussing the existence of a unifying principle of East Asian social welfare model. Pension systems can be examined from different frameworks. For example, the OECD report, Pension at a Glance, uses both multi-pillar framework and benefit type in classifying Asian pension systems. First, from a multi-pillar framework, pension system can be divided into the first-pillar that has redistributive factors and the second-pillar that has the insurance component. Second, they also classify the system based on how the benefits are determined, such as DB and DC. In this paper, we would like to focus on the social solidarity perspective in comparing the basic structure of Korean, Japanese and Chinese pension systems. Pension system is a collective endeavor that diversifies old-age income risks through social solidarity. Therefore, analysing the principles of social solidarity underlying each nation's pension system is of vital importance in understanding the characteristics of each nation's pension system. Furthermore, it can also provide us with an insight to see if these nations show similar patterns and would be categorized as having a similar pension model. That is, it gives us the key criteria of seeing whether there is a single pension system design in East Asia. This study has cast considerable doubt on the possible single East Asian welfare model from solidarity principles in the pensions systems.

This article seeks to analyze the restructuring of the welfare system for old age income security in Taiwan since the 1990s and to identify factors explaining th is development. During the last two decades, the old age income security system in Taiwan experienced a permanent construction and restructuring. Substantial changes have taken place seen in three institutional areas, following different developmental pathways: (1) initiation and expansion of a quasi-"basic pension system" based on various status-differentiated, tax financed old age allowance schemes targeted on people over 65 without any support of social benefits ; (2) reform and retrenchment of the existing occupation-based social security system, including occupational social insurance schemes (since 1950s), public pension schemes for civil servants (since 1960s), and the mandatory occupational pension for employers (since 1984); (3) establishment of a national pension insurance system for the working-aged excluded from the occupation -based social security system mentioned above . I argue that this multi-dimensional restructuring is influenced by the interactions of three factors, namely: (1) the welfare system developed before the political transformation and its legacies; (2) the role and function of democratic elections and political parties in social interest representation; (3) the semi-presidential system for policy-making. During the democratic transformation and consolidation, different patterns of interaction between these three factors generate distinct pension politics that have effects on different institutional areas and i nfluence the dynamics of next round pension development. In general, it can be said that this restructuring in democratic Taiwan consolidates a pension system with predominantly two pillars that strengthens the public commitments in the old age income security, but does not emphasize the responsibility of individual, family or market which usually had been identified as the main source of social welfare in East Asia.

This contrasts not only sharply with the focus on privatization encouraged by influential international agencies, but also with the conventional productivist/developmental welfare state
perspective in explaining the East Asian welfare state development.


Dr. Chen, Ming-fang
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Welfare
National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan.

Old age has become a common social risk for people in developed and developing societies. With the labour market, economic conditions, and trends of family structure becoming unstable and unpredictable, people now face a greater financial risk in old age. In addition, pension reforms in many countries have tightened eligibility and reduce benefit levels. All these factors together have led to a less secure financial condition for later life. This paper analyses how people, under these unfavourable social and economic trends, prepare for their old age financial security.

This study employed a quantitative approach. A telephone survey was conducted in Taipei city and 1,050 adults were interviewed. The results show that people's social economic status, the perception of personal ability to mobilise resources, contend of accessible social protection programs, confidence in social protection schemes, and attitude towards old age financial risk all have an impact on people's strategies in preparing for later life. Survey data also show that people, especially for the younger generation, are generally underprepared for old age. This study concludes by addressing the importance of promoting social awareness of old age financial risk and improving the robustness of old age income protection system.

Tsunghsi Fu
Department of Social Work, National Taiwan University (Taipei)
tsunghsifu@ntu.edu.tw